SA closed vote could violate Open Meetings Act

By Keith Hernandez and Maxwell Bisaillon

The Student Association Senate plans to take final action on whether or not to remove SA Vice President Reggie Bates from office in a closed session Sunday — an action that could be in violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act.

The SA Senate remained in a closed session (a meeting in which the public cannot attend) until it had to leave at 11:30 p.m. Sunday because the Holmes Student Center, in which the meeting occurred, closed at midnight. SA Senate Speaker Dillon Domke said the purpose of the meeting was to hear testimony and vote on the removal of Bates from office; however, a recess was called because the meeting ran out of time.

The SA Senate will resume the closed meeting after its normal public meeting Sunday. Domke said the vote will take place in private because of concerns of possible retaliation against voters.

Frank LoMonte, director of the Student Press Law Center, said while any public body is able to hold closed meetings for exemptions specified in the Illinois Open Meetings Act — in this case, a personnel issue — voting must be witnessed by the public.

“The public meeting laws entitle the public to see votes being cast,” LoMonte said. “And to see which of their representatives voted in which way.”

The Illinois Open Meetings Act does not cite an exemption for final action.

“No final action may be taken at a closed meeting,” the act reads. “Final action shall be preceded by a public recital of the nature of the matter being considered and other information that will inform the public of the business being conducted.”

The charges Bates faces have not been released. He did not respond to a request for comment.